Down syndrome--genetic and nutritional aspects of accompanying disorders

Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2015;66(3):189-94.


Down syndrome (DS) is one of the more commonly occurring genetic disorders, where mental retardation is combined with nutritional diseases. It is caused by having a third copy of chromosome 21, and there exist 3 forms; Simple Trisomy 21, Translocation Trisomy and Mosaic Trisomy. Symptoms include intellectual disability/mental retardation, early onset of Alzheimer's disease and the appearance of various phenotypic features such as narrow slanted eyes, flat nose and short stature. In addition, there are other health problems throughout the body, consisting in part of cardiac defects and thyroid function abnormalities along with nutritional disorders (ie. overweight, obesity, hypercholesterolemia and deficiencies of vitamins and minerals). Those suffering DS have widespread body frame abnormalities and impaired brain development and function; the latter leading to impaired intellectual development. Many studies indicate excessive or deficient nutrient uptakes associated with making inappropriate foodstuff choices, food intolerance, (eg. celiac disease) or malabsorption. DS persons with overweight or obesity are linked with a slow metabolic rate, abnormal blood leptin concentrations and exhibit low levels of physical activity. Vitamin B group deficiencies and abnormal blood homocysteine levels decrease the rate of intellectual development in DS cases. Zinc deficiencies result in short stature, thyroid function disorders and an increased appetite caused by excessive supplementation. Scientific advances in the research and diagnosis of DS, as well as preventing any associated conditions, have significantly increased life expectancies of those with this genetic disorder. Early dietary interventions by parents or guardians of DS children afford an opportunity for decreasing the risk or delaying some of the DS associated conditions from appearing, thus beneficially impacting on their quality of life.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 21
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Down Syndrome / complications
  • Down Syndrome / genetics*
  • Down Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Down Syndrome / therapy
  • Food Hypersensitivity / diet therapy*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Nutritional Status
  • Trisomy*